Government proposal: Closure of restaurants to continue until 18 April
The Government proposes that the closure of restaurants continue for another three weeks until 18 April 2021. The closure would continue under the same conditions as the current closure, which is in force until 28 March 2021. The Government decided on the continuation of the closure in its negotiations on 22 March and the proposal was submitted to Parliament on 23 March 2021.
“The epidemic situation is still so serious that we are forced to continue the closure of restaurants. This is one of the necessary measures to curb the spread of the epidemic and reduce the number of infections,” Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen said.
“Understandably, this is quite a blow to the restaurant sector, which is already struggling. Parliament is currently discussing our proposal to pay compensation to companies affected by the closure. The compensation will of course cover this extension of the closure,” Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä said.
Parliament will now consider the Government’s proposal, after which it is intended to enter into force as soon as possible.
Continuation of the closure deemed necessary due to the epidemic situation
Restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses will remain closed to customers in areas where the COVID-19 epidemic situation is the most serious. The situation is reviewed weekly and the areas that the closure affects are laid down in a government decree. The current decree will remain in force until 28 March 2021.
A new decree on the areas affected by the extended closure will be given once Parliament has adopted the act on the closure of restaurants.
In principle, food and beverage service business would remain closed to customers in the regions where the epidemic is in the acceleration or community transmission phase.
In regions, where food and beverage service business are allowed to stay open to customers, such establishments must observe provisions laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and in the regulations issued under it.
Restaurants must be closed to customers until 28 March 2021 in the following regions:
2. Southwest Finland
8. South Karelia
9. South Savo
10. Central Finland
11. South Ostrobothnia
13. North Ostrobothnia
The following areas are excluded from the closure: North Karelia, Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Savo. In these regions, food and beverage service business must observe provisions laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and in the regulations issued under it.
The same applies to all food and beverage service businesses in Finland after the closure ends. Based on the Act, stricter restrictions on the opening hours, licensing hours and the number of customer seats of food and beverage service businesses could be laid down.
Closure to affect all food and beverage service businesses, with the exception of staff restaurants
As before, the food and beverage service businesses to be closed down would include cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs that are open to the public. The restriction will also affect outdoor terraces. However, sales of takeaway meals would be allowed during the closure.
Only restaurants that are not open to the public would be exempt from the closures. It will therefore not affect canteens in residential homes for older people or staff restaurants that are not open to other customers, for example.
In regions not affected by the closure, food and beverage service businesses can continue to be open to customers. Businesses that remain open must still comply with the restrictions laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and in the regulations issued under it.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment has prepared a support model for the reasonable compensation of businesses affected by the current closure measures. The proposal for the support model is currently under consideration by Parliament and will be implemented as part of business cost support. The proposed extension to the closure of restaurants will be taken into account in the further preparation of the support model. Companies would apply for the compensation at the State Treasury. Applications for the compensation could be accepted from the beginning of May.
Liisa Huhtala, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 504 7062 (closure of restaurants)
Mikko Huuskonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 506 3732 (questions on business cost support)